Muffled Hearing: Causes and Solutions

Woman in pain for tinnitus, sound and noise problem. Healthcare, pressure and hearing loss with girl suffering with muffled hearing.

There are a wide variety of reasons for muffled hearing. For the majority of individuals, it’s a temporary situation. In other instances, muffled hearing can be a precursor of more substantial hearing-related problems. In part, that’s because, outside of sudden hearing loss, hearing loss is typically not a condition that progresses suddenly. Symptoms progress slowly and over time.

Typically, one of the first detectable symptoms is a sense that sounds feel muffled, distorted, or quieter. Muffled hearing, however, isn’t necessarily an indication that you’re developing permanent hearing loss. Each year millions of individuals experience muffled hearing.

Maybe you’re wondering if you should be worried about your muffled hearing. The answer depends on several factors. Understanding the root cause of your muffled hearing is essential to finding the right treatment plan. Added damage can be prevented and your hearing can get back to normal with some prompt solutions. Contacting us for a consultation can help you begin this process, typically resulting in successful treatments, so you can continue enjoying the sounds of your day-to-day life.

Muffled Hearing – what exactly is it?

When sound can’t move through your outer, middle, and inner ear in a normal way, your hearing can sound muffled. A very noticeable decline in sound quality is the outcome. Hearing won’t be totally gone with muffled hearing but things will sound distorted and quieter. This may especially affect your ability to discern and understand voices and spoken language.

In many cases, and depending on the underlying cause, muffled hearing can be accompanied by a sense of fullness or stuffiness in your ears. Lots of people have experienced this feeling for a short time, for example, when they have a cold or when they are taking a flight. Muffled hearing isn’t always accompanied by this feeling, however.

Causes of muffled hearing

Muffled hearing can be caused by all kinds of issues. Determining the root cause of your muffled hearing can be important in establishing a successful treatment plan. Here are several of the most prevalent causes:

  • Meniere’s Disease: When you have Menier’s Disease, you suffer from chronic hearing and balance issues. Over time, this disease can trigger tinnitus, loss of hearing (frequently starting with muffled hearing), and dizziness or loss of balance. The symptoms of Menier’s disease can be managed but not cured.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Hearing loss which results from noise damage can sometimes cause muffled hearing. This kind of hearing loss is, unfortunately, usually irreversible. Muffled hearing is frequently one of the earliest detectable symptoms; but by the time you detect the distorted sounds, damage to your stereocilia has probably already happened. You should find treatment promptly to avoid your hearing getting significantly worse quickly.
  • Earwax buildup: Normally, earwax is a good thing. The health of your ear canal depends on the generation of earwax. However, too much earwax can eventually cause muffled hearing (or even loss of hearing). This earwax can usually be loosened up by using a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide. Never attempt to dislodge stuck earwax with a cotton swab which will only push the wax further up into the ear canal. We can help if the issue continues.
  • Travel: Altitude changes, like when you’re on a plane, can lead to a feeling of muffled ears. Your hearing will go back to normal fairly quickly once your physical conditions return to normal.
  • Hearing loss associated with age: As you age, your hearing can diminish as a result of natural causes. After all, there are few senses as sharp when you are 80 as when you are 18. Over time, muffled hearing can be the outcome of this natural decline of your ability to hear.
  • Infection: In some cases, issues like infections (including sinus infections or ear infections) can cause swelling in the ear canal (this is especially true with ear infections). This inflammation can cause your ear canal to swell shut, effectively decreasing your ability to hear. Once the base infection goes away, any inflammation it caused should also clear.

The exact symptoms of muffled hearing will vary depending on the underlying cause.

Can muffled hearing be cured?

Not all forms of muffled hearing can be cured. The treatment for your muffled hearing will change depending on the root cause. For instance, if excessive earwax buildup is the main cause, we may use specific tools to help you clear out your ear canal. Antibiotics are typically prescribed if your muffled hearing is being caused by an infection.

In terms of sensorineural hearing loss, the focus changes to symptom management rather than a total cure. That’s because there’s no cure for sensorineural hearing loss. But it is possible to control symptoms. There might be numerous strategies to this treatment including a pair of hearing aids.

Hearing aids can help you remain connected to loved ones and tackle your day-to-day activities without a significantly noticeable effect, especially when this process is started promptly.

How to steer clear of muffled hearing in the first place

Some types of muffled hearing are hard to avoid, no matter what. For instance, ear infections and sinus infections are difficult to reliably avoid.

However, in most cases, routine hearing tests can help you steer clear of many of the causes of muffled hearing and detect any permanent hearing loss early. These examinations can help you stay on top of your hearing health and get treatment promptly.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.